Aim To develop intervention strategies that promote screening for cognitive impairment, it is essential to identify the modifiable predictors for participation in screening. The present study aimed to examine whether a shorter distance to the screening site predicted participation in screening for cognitive impairment, and whether interactive effects of the distance and psychological factors on the participation would be observed among community‐dwelling older adults. Methods The study used a prospective design. After a baseline questionnaire survey, participation in screening for cognitive impairment was followed for 6 months (n = 9616). The distance to the screening site was measured by road distance from each residential address and categorized into four groups (<1 km, 1–1.99 km, 2–2.99 km, ≥3 km). The questionnaire measured psychological factors (behavioral intention and perceived benefits of screening), driving status and demographic factors. Results A logistic regression analysis showed that compared with the <1 km group, the 2–2.99 km (adjusted odds ratio 0.62, P = 0.040) and ≥3 km (adjusted odds ratio 0.54, P = 0.015) groups did not participate in screening after adjusting for psychological and demographic factors, and driving status. The interaction of the distances and psychological factors on participation were not significant. Conclusions The distance to the screening site predicted participation in cognitive impairment screening among older adults regardless of their psychological status. This finding shows that improving access to screening sites would be effective for promoting screening for cognitive impairments among both low and highly motivated older adults. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2017; ••: ••–••.